HomeReportMonthly ReportsMost Notable Human Rights Violations in Syria in November 2023

Most Notable Human Rights Violations in Syria in November 2023


The ICJ Issues an Order Indicating Provisional Measures Against the Syrian Regime and Demanding that the Regime Prevents Torture

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Press Release: (Download the full report below)

The Hague – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today released its monthly special report summarizing the human rights situation in Syria during the previous month, which documents the most prominent human rights violations committed by the parties to the conflict and the dominant forces in Syria in November 2023. Amongst other subjects, the report addresses the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s recent order indicating provisional measure against the Syrian regime and demanding that the regime prevent acts of torture.

The 26-page report provides details of the most prominent violations documented in November 2023, including the civilian victims killed by the parties to the conflict and controlling forces during this period, in addition to providing a summary of the month’s arrests/detentions and enforced disappearances, along with other information. It also sheds light on the attacks on civilian objects which SNHR was able to document during this period.

In compiling our reports, SNHR relies on continuous monitoring of incidents and news reports and on information gathered by a wide network of trusted contacts from dozens of diverse sources, in addition to exhaustive analysis of a large number of photos and videos.

In November, the report reveals, SNHR documented the killing of 72 civilians, including 14 children and seven women (adult female), most of whom were killed by Syrian regime forces. Among these, the report documents the killing of one medical worker, one media worker, and nine individuals who died to torture. The report also records no fewer than one massacre.

As the report further reveals, November saw the documentation of 221 cases of arbitrary arrest/detention by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, with these detainees including 19 children and 14 women. The majority were detained by Syrian regime forces in the governorates of Rural Damascus (Rif Dimshaq) ,then, Aleppo, then Damascus.

The report further notes that November witnessed at least three attacks on vital civilian facilities – two by regime forces and one by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Of these attacks, the report notes, one targeted an educational facility and one targeted a place of worship.

The report additionally reveals that November saw the continuation of the Syrian regime’s ground attacks on northwestern Syria, albeit at a significantly lower rate that the two previous months, especially October. These attacks were concentrated in southern and eastern rural Idlib, western rural Aleppo, and Sahl al-Ghab in western rural Hama, all areas close to the dividing lines. Additionally, the report notes that many ground regime attacks on northwestern Syria targeted civilians while they were harvesting olives on their agricultural lands during the olive season, killing and injuring dozens. Meanwhile, the number of Russian attacks targeting northwestern Syria fell in November compared to October. In November, Russian attacks were concentrated on areas close to the dividing lines in southern rural Idlib and rural Latakia, causing only material damages with no casualties recorded. Elsewhere, the peaceful civilian demonstrations in regime-controlled areas continued in November for the fourth consecutive month, mostly in the regime-controlled governorate of Suwayda in southern Syria. The protestors continued to condemn Bashar Assad for the dire state of the country, and to call for the downfall of the regime.

The report also reveals that the SDF killed many civilians in northeastern Syria in November, whether in the territories under the group’s own control or in regime-held areas. Furthermore, the report documents that November saw three civilians, including a child and a woman, killed by landmine explosions. This brings the total number of victims killed by landmines in Syria since the beginning of 2023 to 104, including 26 children and nine women. November also saw more assassinations of civilians at the hands of unidentified assailants across Syria, mostly in the governorates of Suwayda, Daraa, and Deir Ez-Zour.

Meanwhile, economic, living, services, and security conditions continued to deteriorate across all sectors in areas under Syrian regime control, with a particularly sharp decline seen in the services sector and price rises for all kinds of goods, particularly foodstuff, vegetables, and red meat. The report also sheds light on the suffering of Syrian citizens living in areas that saw intense hostilities. Those citizens are living in severely dilapidated buildings riven with dangerous cracks as a result of bombing, which could collapse on top of their residents at any moment due to the lack of resources and investment in structural repairs.

In northwestern Syria, meanwhile, civilians’ already severe suffering continues to worsen due to deteriorating economic and living conditions in parallel with rising prices for food and grocery supplies, all intensified by the people’s waning purchasing power due to widespread unemployment and poverty, especially in those areas housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, with wages for those in work in these areas also continuing to decline. Further exacerbating the dire living conditions was the declining value of the Turkish Lira (TRY). Regarding services, many areas suffered water outages, as the fragile mains water network has been adversely affected by frequent power outages. Meanwhile, regime personnel at military checkpoints have been blocking the entry of food and fuel supplies to the SDF-controlled al-Shahba area in northern Aleppo governorate since November 20, resulting in a number of disastrous consequences, such as effectively suspending the functioning of bakeries and main hospitals in the areas, and exacerbating the already horrendous suffering of these areas’ residents especially those in camps. This siege continues as of this writing.

The report additionally notes that the situation in northeastern Syria remains similarly dire, with worsening living and security conditions. Prices of food, fuel and other essential commodities in the region continue to rise due to the controlling forces’ failure to regulate the market. The situation further deteriorated following clashes in September, which continued, though more sporadically, throughout November. Overall, these clashes made it even more difficult for civilians in these areas to secure water and day-to-day essential requirements such as food and medication.

Furthermore, the suffering of IDPs in northwestern Syria also continued to worsen in November in relation to both living conditions and the ongoing humanitarian crisis, with the humanitarian needs of millions of IDPs reaching unprecedented levels. The crisis is further intensified by the ever-increasing prices, especially of food supplies, on one hand, and by widespread unemployment and virtually non-existent purchasing power among residents of the area on the other.

The report stresses that the evidence collected suggests that attacks have been deliberately directed at civilians and civilian facilities. Syrian-Russian alliance forces have committed a large variety of crimes, ranging from extrajudicial killings to arrests, torture and enforced disappearances. The report notes that these attacks and indiscriminate bombardment by air and ground forces have caused the destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, shops and other structures, and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.

The report affirms that the Syrian regime has violated international humanitarian and customary law, and UN Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2139 and resolution 2042 related to the release of detainees, as well as resolution 2254, all without any accountability.

The report further notes that the continuing indiscriminate and disproportionate shelling by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a clear violation of international humanitarian law, with the group’s indiscriminate killings amounting to war crimes.

The report calls on the UN Security Council to take additional measures following the adoption of Resolution 2254, and stresses the need to refer the Syrian issue to the International Criminal Court and to hold all those involved, including the Russian regime, accountable since all have been proven to be involved in the commission of war crimes.

The report recommends that the UN Security Council should adopt a resolution prohibiting the use of cluster munitions and mines in Syria similar to the existing prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, which should include information on how to safely dispose of the remnants of these dangerous weapons.

The report also calls on all relevant United Nations agencies to make far greater efforts regarding the provision of humanitarian, food and medical assistance in areas where hostilities have ceased, in camps for internally displaced persons, and in their follow-up on funding from states which have pledged the necessary voluntary contributions.

The report further calls for the application of the principle of responsibility to protect (R2P), especially after the exhaustion of political steps through all the agreements, statements of cessation of hostilities and Astana agreements issued to date, stressing the need to resort to Chapter VII and apply the R2P principle, approved by the United Nations General Assembly.

The report additionally recommends that the International Independent Commission of Inquiry (CoI) should open investigations into the incidents detailed in this report and previous reports, confirming the Syrian Network for Human Rights’ readiness to cooperate in any such endeavors and to provide further evidence and details. It also calls for the issue of mines and cluster munitions to be highlighted in the CoI’s next report.

The report also calls on the UN’s Special Envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of all crimes and massacres and to denounce those who are primarily responsible for disregarding agreements reached on reducing the escalation of violence, as well as calling on him to restore the peace process to its normal form after Russia’s attempts to distort it, and to present the Constitutional Committee to the transitional government.

The report further stresses the need for the Syrian regime to cease its indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools and markets, and its use of prohibited munitions and barrel bombs, and to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.

In addition, the report emphasizes the need for the countries supporting the SDF to press the Kurdish-led group to cease all its violations in all the areas and towns under its control. In the report, the SNHR again calls on the SDF to immediately end its conscription of children, to hold all personnel involved in doing so accountable, and to undertake to immediately return all children arrested for military conscription to their families.

The report further recommends that armed opposition factions and the SNA should ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, should distinguish between military and civilian targets, and should refrain from any further indiscriminate attacks.

The report additionally stresses the need for humanitarian organizations to develop urgent operational plans with a view to securing dignified, safe shelter for internally displaced persons; and to provide care facilities and mechanisms such as medical establishments, schools and ambulances with markings visible from long distances, as well as making a number of additional recommendations.

Download the full report


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